I was lucky enough to attend the Springboard Trust’s Leadership in Education Forum recently where global, national and local education issues were discussed. The day begun with a McKinsey and Company representative guiding us though their report “How the world’s best school systems come out on top“. This was followed by a talk from Cathy Wylie and one from Bruce Adin. Below is a brief outline of the highlights and most interesting points for me.
- The most scarce resource in schools is collaboration, not money.
- New Zealand schools and classes can be incredibly fragmented, which leads to a lack of collaboration, which is key to improving schools and school systems.
- In New Zealand, we have an incredibly high variation in academic performance within schools. We also have a comparatively high effect from socio-economic factors on academic achievement here.
- To help improve our schools, teachers need plenty of autonomy to try out small scale innovations. Then we must share these innovations to make ‘micro’ innovations ‘macro’.
- Peer accountability and support is key in improving teacher capabilities, as opposed to teacher accountability to a higher body.
- The biggest changes in teacher effectiveness come from professional development, not school resourcing.
- Collaborative practice isn’t just about sharing, it’s about making practice as public as possible.
- Your teaching team is only as good as your weakest member. We’re all good, or none of us are good enough.
- There are huge benefits for teachers to have a career pathway for highly effective ‘expert’ teachers. This has been successful in Shanghai.
I couldn’t get over the number of times the experts at this forum talked about the benefits of collaboration when you already have an effective schooling system but want to improve it further. Our schools are incredibly fragmented and if you aren’t on Twitter, don’t follow blogs, don’t attend conferences and so on; classrooms can be pretty isolated places. This really highlighted the importance for teachers to join such networks; to avoid just waiting for school run PD and connective opportunities to come our way; and to be more proactive in our learning and sharing. It was perfect timing for me to attend this forum as I had just started promoting EduCafe – an event which has the (almost) sole purpose of allowing people to connect more face to face outside of the usual boundaries of schools, heirachy, subject, year level and position.
All in all a well worthwhile event to attend. A big thank you to the Springboard Trust!